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5 min read

Veganuary - Tips for adding more plant-based foods to your diet.

Dairy Free Diet & Nutrition Education Health & Nutrition Coach Lifestyle Advice Vegan

It’s Veganuary, and whether you experiment with going full-blown vegan or not there are some benefits to adding more plant-based foods into your diet.
 
In my practice, I often talk about the concept of ‘adding in’ which is essentially focusing more on what we can add to our diet rather than worrying about what we believe we need to take out. Veganuary is a great opportunity to add in more plant-based foods and there are many reasons why this can have a positive impact on our health as we begin a new year. 
 
Studies show that there is a benefit to your health to adding in veggies and fruit regardless of whether or not your weight changes1. And whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or somewhere in between there are known benefits to eating a variety of plant-based foods in general. 
 
Natural plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains are rich in fibre, micronutrients, plant proteins and unsaturated fats which can have positive impacts on our health including reducing heart disease and type 2 diabetes2, and help in preventing some types of cancer3.
 
The health benefits of the diets of those living in “blue zones” has also been widely researched, these diets which are dominated by plant-based foods as well as a strong sense of community have been shown to have a variety of health benefits overall4.
 
Reducing meat and increasing plant foods also has positive benefits for the health of our planet. Compared to large-scale animal farming, plant-based foods use fewer fossil fuels, land and water overall. While there is no need to go fully vegetarian, as grazing animals also have a positive impact when allowed to roam, reducing meat overall can have a positive impact on the environment  
 
So, how do we get started? 
 
When it comes to adding in more plant-based foods, I usually recommend a step by step approach rather than a full overhaul and there are some easy ways to get started with increasing your plant power. 
 
If you’re not already using a plant-based protein powder for smoothies and shakes – consider a swap – try it – you might just be pleasantly surprised. Clean Lean Protein uses a base of European golden peas which are full of fibre and protein to keep you going. 
 
Try adding in lentils or finely chopped mushrooms to your mince-based meals such as bolognese or nachos. Go half and half or full-blown plant-based, both are delicious. 
 
Give new foods a try. Have you ever had tofu? It’s delicious when done right, and there are tons of recipes online. For those who like a firmer texture, tempeh can be a great option too. 
 
We’re lucky to have some great plant-based dairy options available to us now so try swapping your morning yoghurt with coconut yoghurt. Both are creamy and delicious and contain beneficial probiotics for healthy digestion. 
Want to replace the egg used in your baking? No problem! Simply swap your egg for a mixture of 1 Tbsp chia seed or ground linseed and 2 Tbsp water. 
 
Need more inspiration? Have a read of this article for even more ideas. 
 
It’s important to be mindful of certain nutrients when reducing your meat consumption as there are some deficiencies that we need to be aware of: 
 

  • Such as Zinc
  • B12
  • Iron
  • Calcium and
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
 

To fill any gaps while you give this a go, Good Green Vitality can be a great multi to start with. Adding in an additional source of Omega 3 fatty acids is also recommended. 

 

Overall, reducing animal products and increasing plant based ones is a personal choice but there is a global consensus that doing so is not only great for our bodies but for the planet as well. Luckily, plant based foods are also delicious!

 
 
References:
  1. https://www.jabfm.org/content/25/1/9.long
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19351712/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cancer-fighting-foods
  4. https://www.bluezones.com/blue-zones-institute-research/